"So, this Christmas thing. It means presents, right?" Grace asked Joan as they stood at the latter's locker.
"I don't exactly do Christmas, you know."
"Then why are you asking...oh." Joan resisted the desire to roll her eyes. "Right. Him. Yeah, presents are the meaning of the holiday and everything. Well, to most people."
"So, what does he want?"
"Why would I know?"
"You're his sister."
"And every year I give him a renewal subscription to Popular Science and he gives me one to Seventeen, though I think next year I'm asking for Cosmo. It works well for us." With a shrug of her shoulders, Joan slammed her locker shut.
"He's not getting me something stupid and romantic like jewelry or anything, right?"
"I have no clue. He spent enough time searching for your last present, remember? I'm sure he'll over think this to death, too."
"That was pretty cool, actually," Grace mumbled as they started down the hall. "So, you'll go shopping with me, right?"
"Are you buying me something?" Joan asked brightly, then laughed at her friend's scowl.
On the night of Christmas Eve, the Girardi household was festive and full of the sound of Bing Crosby on the television and the scent of evergreen and cinnamon in the air. They were putting aside the lawsuit and concentrating on having a good time. While their parents were upstairs wrapping last minute gifts and Kevin was stuck at the newspaper for another hour working on the holiday edition, the other two kids were downstairs watching Holiday Inn and snacking on cookies.
"This really isn't a Christmas movie, you know," Luke said around a snickerdoodle.
Joan arched a brow at him and pointed to Bing singing White Christmas.
"Well, yeah, this small part of it is."
The doorbell broke up their arguing and after a minute of 'you get it', 'no, you get it', Joan huffed and rose to answer the door.
Adam and Grace stood on the stoop, each bearing gift bags. Adam's was hand made and covered in tinsel and glitter.
Grace's had a big Santa head on it.
"Merry Christmas, Jane," Adam murmured and held out his gift.
"Come in, you two. Grace, Luke's in the family room." As Grace muttered a greeting and passed the two caught in the doorway, Joan glanced up and smiled. "Mistletoe. You know what that means."
Adam wrapped her in his arms and kissed her softly.
In the family room, Luke started to ask who had been at the door as he looked up, then he broke off his question and jumped to his feet, brushing crumbs from his sweater. "Um, hi."
"Yeah, hi. Here." Grace thrust the bag at him. "Merry Christmas."
Grinning, Luke took the gift and set it on the coffee table, then reached out and took her hand. Still unused to their public displays of affection, she reluctantly let him lead her to the tree in the corner.
"Your gift's down here somewhere."
"It's not sappy or romantic is it?"
"Hardly." Grinning, he crouched down and plucked a small box from the floor, then rose and handed it to her. "Should we open them now?"
"It's your holiday, dude." She shrugged out of her coat and tossed it and her hat onto a chair, then joined Luke back on the couch.
"It's close enough to midnight. You go first."
"If it's sappy, I'm going to have to smack you, you know that, right?"
Carefully Grace unwrapped the gold and blue paper decorated with stars. "This is Hanukkah paper. Why didn't you give me this back then?"
"You're a hard person to buy for, Grace. It took me most of December to come up with this, but you can think of it as a gift for whatever holiday you want. I just hope you like it," he added softly.
A weird pleasure went through her and Grace felt herself smiling at him, then forced her attention back to the small box. Opening it, she set down the lid and lifted a sheet of paper from a nest of tissue.
"It kind of goes along with the last gift I gave you."
Grace read the certificate and gave him a look of surprise. "Dude, you named a star after me?"
"You like it?" Luke asked nervously.
"Yeah." She grinned and leaned over to kiss him. "I like it a lot. And, I think this means we're meant for each other."
She gestured to the bag containing his gift and he gave her a puzzled look, but opened it and pulled out a rolled piece of paper.
Luke laughed as he unrolled it. She'd named a star after him, too. "Yeah, you're right. Two great minds thinking alike."
"Not too sappy?"
"Nope, and just geeky enough," he replied before leaning down and kissing her again. This time the kiss lingered and hands began to roam until they were interrupted.
"Get a room guys."
Grace glared up at Joan, then smirked at the sight of her best friend's hair a bit mussed and the top two buttons of her shirt buttoned wrong. She and Adam both had goofy looks on their flushed faces and stood with arms around each other. "Yeah, you too."
A noise on the stairs broke both couples apart and a moment later Will poked his head into the family room. "It's going to be a white Christmas."
"Huh?" Joan asked.
"It's snowing," he explained further.
"Cool," Adam exclaimed. "Come on, Jane, let's go look." As one couple headed for the front door, the other one looked at each other.
"Think there's enough yet for a snowball fight?" Grace asked, a gleam in her eye.
"We can so take them."
They grabbed up their coats and pounded after Joan and Adam into the heavily falling snow that lay wet and white on every surface, in just the right consistency to make perfect snowballs.
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